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The cosmopolitics of precariousness

I understand that what Anna Tsing means by precariousness - and this has to do with what Heidegger would call the age of pursuit, the age of danger, the age of persecution (fara, Gefahr) in his Bremen lectures (see especially the third one) - is akin to grief. Grief in the sense of what Mary Daly meant by recovering from the war (as opposed to the other two states she thought patriarchy comprises: that of preparing for war and that of waging war). Recovering is the precarious state where survivals are trying to trust something in an environment where sheer and crude violence dares no longer to speak its name, in the image of post-war Levinas gives in his "Sans Nom" (in Proper Names).

I have been thinking about Daly's diagnosis especially because at some point in the last accelerated decades we, as witnesses of the Modern fate, have gone from recovering from a catastrophe to preparing (for) another. General grief has slowly disappeared and was replaced by an eagerness for further action. Tsing's description of matsutake foragers and of the mushroom itself is about what flourishes in grief and destruction. While planning (preparing) and acting involve movements of bringing the world to fit - realizing a desire - the moment of grief is one where one accepts, receives, releases control. The last moment is perhaps one of receptivity as opposed to spontaneity. It is a moment where one is in the hands of something else in the sense that one is accepting a fate, accepting to be placed somewhere by the world - made to fit. To be sure, the age of grief is also the age of persecution, activity requires passivity and vice-versa. The three states of Daly are not necessarily not simultaneous. They are perhaps necessarily concomitant - but there could be a general state of grief while matsutake, say, take action and thrive.

The trouble is that recovery or grief cannot be induced by any desirable power - this state cannot be part of a political project. I doubt Levinas himself thought sanctity could be preached. At most, and this was his project, it could be discovered and when it is, we find something that transcends history and being itself. It ties with projects like leaving poverty through community support (for example, alternative money or gift-giving schemes) and abandoning the very community support scheme that lifted one up as soon as one goes from the recovery to the preparation state. Precariousness in the age of persecution is a somber but sobering situation to be in. To make precariousness and grief more stand longer, one needs not a political project but perhaps a cosmopolitical conjuration of forces (something akin to Heidegger's Kehre). Maybe we can start out this by describing what would be like to transcend a history of (patriarchal) three states would look like. Tsing (and Haraway) starts this out by telling different stories, stories of contingent entanglements.


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